Thursday, November 20, 2008

The times, they are a-changing

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We appear to be in the midst of a real revolution. It is a global bloodless revolution, facilitated by electronic communication in that nobody is shooting at or bombing the forces of the various sides. Money and Economics, not Geography, is the arena and the victims are womb-dwellers, bystanders and investors who are getting killed (the last two, figuratively).

The Stock Markets have lost 50% or more of their value. Some countries (Iceland for one), may have to declare bankruptcy. Millions of American homeowners have lost or will lose all or much of the value of their homes; their jobs will soon follow.

In bioethics and morality, it appears the forces support and abhoring abortion, cloning and embryonic stem cell issues, the life issues, are lining up for a cataclysmic contest in this coming year. America's new president will make sure of that while the country's military and economic strength ebbs.

China and India, two-thirds of the world in terms of population, are becoming space powers and are both set to become the economic leaders of the 21st century. The U.S. and Russia are no longer willing to compete. The U.S. will become another Great Britain, trying to hold on to its history and past glory. But in an internet age of instant communication and ec0nomic transactions, nobody cares about history and glory.

Pirates are beginning to rule the waves again because the superpowers can't afford to maintain navies and airforces.

The American Dollar that replaced gold as the world's money standard is probably going to be replaced by gold again, and the U.S. won't have anything to say about it.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, back in 1985, in "Market Economy and Ethics" wrote on the decline of the western economic system:

  • It has also become obvious that the decline of religious convictions can actually cause the laws of the market to collapse.

We are no longer in the Kennedy-era, with its Peace Corps optimism; the Third World's questions about the system may be partial, but they are not groundless. A self-criticism of the Christian confessions with respect to political and economic ethics is the first requirement.

But this cannot proceed purely as a dialogue within the Church. It will be fruitful only if it is conducted with those Christians who manage the economy. A long tradition has led them to regard their Christianity as a private concern, while as members of the business community they abide by the laws of the economy.

These realms have come to appear mutually exclusive in the modern context of the separation of the subjective and objective realms. But the whole point is precisely that they should meet, preserving their own integrity and yet inseparable. It is becoming an increasingly obvious fact of economic history that the development of economic systems which concentrate on the common good depends on a determinate ethical system, which in turn can be born and sustained only by strong religious convictions. 9 Conversely, it has also become obvious that the decline of such discipline can actually cause the laws of the market to collapse. An economic policy that is ordered not only to the good of the group — indeed, not only to the common good of a determinate state — but to the common good of the family of man demands a maximum of ethical discipline and thus a maximum of religious strength. The political formation of a will that employs the inherent economic laws towards this goal appears, in spite of all humanitarian protestations, almost impossible today. It can only be realized if new ethical powers are completely set free. A morality that believes itself able to dispense with the technical knowledge of economic laws is not morality but moralism. As such it is the antithesis of morality. A scientific approach that believes itself capable of managing without an ethos misunderstands the reality of man. Therefore it is not scientific. Today we need a maximum of specialized economic understanding, but also a maximum of ethos so that specialized economic understanding may enter the service of the right goals. Only in this way will its knowledge be both politically practicable and socially tolerable.

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